Z2 Overrated - Olav Aleksander Bu

Really interesting conversation with coach to “The Norwegians”


here’s the thread already also mentioning this (click-baity) video:

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Thanks. But deserves its own thread imo.

This is the coach to Olympic champions after all, and there’s a whole load of useful stuff in it.

  • Mitochondria and physiology of z2 training
  • Agreement but nuance with San Milano
  • Discussion of 6-8hr training weeks
  • Reference to measuring weekly training by kJ and progressive overload

yes, good listen, and excepting your last bullet I got different walk-away messages. Been listening while doing household chores before an afternoon 21st bday celebration :tada: so I’ll listen again, take notes, and post later.

Cog would have probably would have said that zone 2 is over rated.

Bu called ISM “san inego”. :slight_smile:

He also just put TR and most training plans out of business.

Mon - Z2/Z3
Tu - Z4+ (intervals)*
Wed - easy Z2
Thurs - Z4+ (intervals)*
Fri - rest
Sat - Z 2/3/4 (group ride?)
Sun - easy day or rest

Use the easy days to maintain consistency.

*always leave one or two intervals in reserve


He also said that’s been developed and known for decades :rofl: And thought he said it was z1/z2 on Monday. Whatever. I’ve arrived at a different microcycle Mon/Wed/Fri are endurance+intervals, no riding on Sunday, and the other days are easy. The fundamentals are easy, and then its about you.


The plan in Greg Lemond’s book (1988) is similar. Most people would get 98% of the way there following the basics without having to worry about everything else.


Maybe I missed something but, nothing new here. I feel like the experts don’t really understand what each other are really getting at. Again, maybe I missed it but, no one ever said z2 only was a good thing unless you wanted to be good at z2. Glad I’m not new to the sport. A lot of really bright people with really bad communication skills. Maddening reading all the confusion year after year after year. Same threads year after year after year.


Makes sense. I wonder how he’d distribute it if you had even more time to train per week.

He has stated that he would start backing down intensity (with caveats, etc) roughly around 15 hrs / week.

I was taught this my first year by ex-pro club mates

Add a little color commentary, not much, and it works :+1:


Depends what you know, and what you heard from Olav…

Different to what?

Z2 was trending in the popular media. Before that, HIIT was trending. Don’t blame the popular media, because they’re a reflection of human nature, including our cognitive limits. In addition, laypeople don’t understand the full body of sports science literature. Sports scientists don’t either, but they do often know what is known and agreed on, what is possible but contested, and what is not known.

Basically, no serious practitioners or scientists were saying that you only need to do Z2 to get fit. People latched on to the idea of Z2, though. Along the way, some people may have got an incorrect impression about Z2. Remember Manon on GCN and that series on her only doing Z2? The thing is, she’s a deconditioned elite athlete, and if she does a bunch of Z2, she’s going to rebuild her aerobic base and, to some extent, recondition in general.


I don’t think the headline “Zone 2 is a waste of time” does justice to the content. It is, at best, shoddy click bait for a video which is worthy of better.

Some bits I took from the video.

MItochondria will just do their thing no matter how much you improve your cardiovascular & respiratory systems. They just will.

Match your training to the thing you are training for.

Consistency is massively important.

Make sure this session isn’t so hard that you can’t do the next one.

Endurance training doesn’t really come with quick wins.

The kJ burnt in training in a particular time period as a way of thinking about volume / intensity interests me and I will think about it more.


What happened (again) is everyone falsely deduced since a pro does a 30+ hour week after week and most of it is z2 all amateurs would benefit from the same ratio. No thought to rider history. No consideration of age. No thought about having a full career, family and all the obligations that go along with it.


It actually works for everybody until they reach a plateau. To the public who doesn’t do structured training, doing just zone 2 is fine. Maybe a little boring but totally fine.

The easiest thing is to do two workouts per week and fill in the rest of one’s hours with endurance riding. That covers everybody between six and twenty hours. If you only ride 3 days per week, it could probably be three workouts since you have four days of recovery. If you want to get faster after you plateau, you ride more endurance. The caveman brain typically defaults to more intervals because, you know, more is better.


I think the most important but completely ignored message is that you shouldn’t go all out but you always should keep 1-2 reps (intervals) in reserve


You could equally say intervals are overrated and you’d be right.


The important message from this interview is not this.